Richard Branson’s Necker Island: Would you pay £39,000 a night? | Metro News

‘Welcome to Necker Island,’ says an all-too-familiar voice. Sir Richard Branson, arms outstretched and beaming, greets us warmly upon arrival at his home and private Caribbean hideaway.

Often in the headlines, thanks to its glittering array of A-list guests, Necker made news for all the wrong reasons in August 2011 when a lightning strike set fire to the Great House. Kate Winslet saved

Branson’s 90-year-old mother as the island’s main building burnt to the ground. ‘The sky was ablaze with 300ft flames,’ says Branson, reliving the night. ‘It was half an hour of sheer terror.’

But now, £9million later, the all-new Great House has risen from the ashes and is open for business. I am one of the first journalists to visit.

After two flights and a speedboat ride, I arrive at the 74-acre island, where the Great House sits perched on the crest of the tallest hill. It is an almost exact replica of the original. The eight guest rooms and huge lounge are packed with antiques sourced from the flea markets of Indonesia and the house even has the same Balinese theme.

There are new touches, too, including a rooftop hot tub, while getting to Turtle Beach no longer means tackling a steep stone staircase thanks to a speedy new zip-line.

via Richard Branson’s Necker Island: Would you pay £39,000 a night? | Metro News.

Cutting Up an Ox, Chuang Tzu, transl. Thomas Merton

Devotion

Prince Wen Hui’s cook

Was cutting up an ox.

Out went a hand,

Down went a shoulder,

He planted a foot,

He pressed with a knee,

The ox fell apart

With a whisper,

The bright cleaver murmured

Like a gentle wind.

Rhythm!  Timing!

Like a sacred dance,

Like “The Mulberry Grove,”

Like ancient harmonies!

“Good work!” the Prince exclaimed,

“Your method is faultless!”

“Method?” said the cook

Laying aside his cleaver,

“What I follow is Tao

Beyond all methods!”

“When I first began

To cut up an oxen

I would see before me

The whole ox

All in one mass.

“After three years

I no longer saw this mass.

I saw the distinctions.

“But now, I see nothing

With the eye.  My whole being

Apprehends.

My senses are idle.  The spirit

Free to work without plan

Follows its own instinct

Guided by natural line,

By the secret opening, the hidden…

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Day of service project brings groups together at Habitat for Humanity home – News – Progress-Index

Firefighters, police officers and sheriff\’s deputies had all gathered at 2026 Ferndale Ave. on Monday, but there wasn\’t an emergency.

They were there with representatives from Faith and Hope Church of God In Christ and Tri-Cities Habitat for Humanity as a day of service in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

\”The house was actually donated to Habitat by an individual and we\’re getting it ready for a family to move into sometime this summer,\” Bob Lewis, construction coordinator for Tri-Cities Habitat for Humanity, said. \”Right now we\’re in the middle of doing demolition work, tearing out all the old plaster and old wiring, and we\’re going to bring it up to code and make it a nice home for someone to buy.\”

Volunteering their time were firefighters, Petersburg sheriff\’s deputies and April Smith with Faith and Hope Church of God In Christ.

Smith said last year her church had assisted in a Habitat For Humanity build project; this year she wanted to coordinate with other city agencies.

\”We want to make Petersburg the jewel that we know it to be,\” Smith said.

She said the reason to volunteer on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is to mark the holiday as a day of service.

via Day of service project brings groups together at Habitat for Humanity home – News – Progress-Index.

Avian Flu Diary: China’s CDC: H7N9 infections will grow further

While it may seem like a statement of the obvious, Feng Zijian, deputy director of China’s CDC has taken to the Chinese airwaves to warn that they expect the number of H7N9 cases to increase in the coming weeks, and that the elderly and the chronically ill should limit their exposure to live poultry.

 

Despite continued warnings over the dangers of exposure to live poultry, live markets remain open in many regions, and when markets are closed, they tend to remain closed only long enough for disinfection of the seller’s stalls.

 

Last October, in The Lancet: Poultry Market Closure Effect On H7N9 Transmission, the consensus was the closure of live markets  – while costly, and not particularly popular among many in China – was largely responsible for the rapid decline in human cases during the first outbreak.

via Avian Flu Diary: China’s CDC: H7N9 infections will grow further.

Japan: New Leak Detected at Crippled Reactor – NYTimes.com

Highly radioactive water found in a reactor building at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant offers new evidence that the reactor’s containment vessel was breached during the accident, the plant’s operator said Monday. The operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said a remote-controlled robot had found water on the floor of the heavily contaminated No. 3 reactor building that was even more radioactive than expected. The high radiation level suggests that the water had leaked from inside the reactor itself, where it would have come in contact with the melted-down fuel core. Nearly three years after the accident, the exact condition of the plant’s three damaged reactors remains unclear since high radiation levels and flooding make it impossible for workers to inspect them.

via Japan: New Leak Detected at Crippled Reactor – NYTimes.com.

H7N9 sees ‘sporadic’ human-to-human transmission: WHO: Shanghaiist

Following up on yesterday’s headlines that a Shanghai doctor contracted the H7N9 avian flu and died, the World Health Organization has announced that human-to-human transmission of the virus might occur ‘sporadically’ in China. There is apparently “no need to panic,” at least not just yet.

The Shanghai doctor case is particularly troubling because, unlike most avian flu victims, the man had no contact with live poultry and his only interaction with the disease was via his infected patients. The biggest stumbling block preventing H7N9 from hitting epidemic proportions is its inability to infect humans without an animal vector, but the latest WHO report hints that this may be in for a change.

The WHO has said that the doctor\’s case, as well as a few other represent, “only one cluster [where] human-to-human transmission might have occurred. We [the World Health Organization] continue to expect only sporadic human cases.”

The Chinese media haven’t been particularly smooth about quelling unease over the coming flumageddon, as a recent health expert who talked with the China Daily can attest:

“So there is no need to panic, although more human cases are expected in coming days,” [the deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention] said.

The H7N9 bird flu virus tends to be more active in winter and such a period of stronger viral activity might last into early spring, he noted.

The main transmission route for the virus remains from birds to humans [and] among the cases reported, up to 70 percent had had contact with birds, he said.

Any statement that being “don’t panic, but” is probably in need of some rephrasing. Furthermore, “up to 70%

” infection via birds still leaves at least a 30% chance of human transmission, which seems fairly high for something that has been described as isolated and sporadic. The WHO is, presumably, working overtime on this one, so we will hopefully have more information soon.

via H7N9 sees ‘sporadic’ human-to-human transmission: WHO: Shanghaiist.

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